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MK on Working With Pitbull and Braving the Changing Waters of Dance Music

It’s 4 p.m. in Croatia, and Mark Kinchen, better known as the producer and DJ MK, is jet-lagged and just waking up. He began the week at Electric Forest in Michigan, then flew to Croatia for Hideout Festival, jetted back to Michigan for weekend two of Electric Forest, then headed to New York, and soon will hit Miami for his MK Presents Area 10 Pool Party at the Delano Beach Club this Sunday, July 1. It's safe to say Kinchen, a veteran dance musician, is in demand.

The story of Marc Kinchen begins in Detroit, the birthplace of techno. He was only 16 when he caught the ear of Kevin Saunderson, one of the godfathers of techno, via a track titled "1st Base." Saunderson added it to his compilation and offered Kinchen free rein in his studio.

“I went to Kevin’s studio all the time," Kinchen remembers. "It was a studio/loft; Kevin worked and lived there. I watched him for hours and learned. I would come late at night sometimes and Kevin and his wife would be asleep, and I’d go to work."

In Saunderson’s studio, MK found his sound, which veered toward house rather than techno. His originals were exemplary of the genre in the '90s: 120 bpm, soulful female vocals, piano, and a smashing hi-hat. He frequently worked with vocalist Alana Simon, who appeared on the successful singles “Always” and “Love Changes." He was also highly accomplished at remixing, putting his own spin on the likes of Bobby Brown, Janet Jackson, Jodeci, and other artists specializing in baby-making jams. His love of New Wave led him to remix Pet Shop Boys. If you were shopping for a house-music remixer in the '90s, MK was the top candidate.

At the turn of the millennium, both MK and dance music at large began their charge toward the mainstream. As occasional hits from Euro artists such as DJ Sammy and Cascada gave way to monster hitmakers like David Guetta and Calvin Harris, Kinchen began working with Will Smith, Ariana Grande, and other Top 40 types. Even amid a changing dance-music landscape, the influence of his early work can be felt in tracks such as Guetta's “When Love Takes Over."

Kinchen's work in the mainstream eventually brought him to Miami, where he spent a month working on music with Pitbull. Besides remixing Mr. Worldwide's track "Give Me Everything," they also completed another dozen-plus edits and originals, releasing some and leaving others in the studio.

“People don’t realize what a truly nice guy he is," Kinchen says of Pitbull. "He helped me out a lot."

Kinchen returned to proper house music around 2012. He received an invite from contemporary talents Jamie Jones and Lee Foss to DJ one of their Hot Creations label parties, and though he prefers producing to DJ'ing, he's been lapping the globe ever since, sharing a production catalogue that dates back 25 years. The hits continue in his comeback: Tracks such as his remix of Wankelmut & Emma Louise's "My Head Is a Jungle" and an original titled "17" are exemplary of the proper quality house he's been creating since 1992.

It's also exactly the kind of thing house-heads can expect at Area 10, which MK will headline. Eight DJs will serenade snorkelers and shufflers with house, deep house, techno, and other styles of electronica from noon till around midnight. Walker & Royce are coming down from Brooklyn and will surely play their new EP, Close Your Eyes. Nathan Barato from Toronto will share his tech-house bangers. And number five on the flyer, but number one in your heart, is the tech-house duo Carabetta & Doons.

MK Presents Area 10 Pool Party. Noon Sunday, July 1, at the Delano Beach Club, 1685 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-672-2000; morganshotelgroup.com. Tickets cost at $30 to $80 via tixr.com.

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